By Dan Bernstein-
CBSChicago.com senior columnist
(CBS) When you're looking at the menu at a great steakhouse, the advice goes, don't outsmart yourself. Though the pork shank may look interesting and your friend told you that it also does a dynamite chicken vesuvio, this isn't the place to go rogue. Play the hits.
After his six tablemates ordered Thursday night in the first round of the NFL Draft, Bears general manager Ryan Pace kept it simple and sensible, opting for the prime cut of rare meat that is West Virginia wide receiver Kevin White. He didn't get creative because he didn't have to.
It was time for the culmination of months of work by scouts fanned across the country filing countless reports, hours upon hours of video study and discussion, background vetting and medical consultations and interviews, and when all was said and done the pick could have been made by a kid merely consulting the magazine he just got at Walgreen's.
And that's fine.
"He checks all the boxes," Pace told reporters. "There haven't been any surprises for us thus far, and when I saw there was a potential we could get this player, we were really, really excited. We're really jacked about this. We couldn't be more thrilled to have him."
Every GM says this every year, of course, but the difference is that not only do I believe Pace, I agree with him. There's always a leap of faith here in trusting that the person in charge knows what he's doing, and Bears fans' wariness can be excused after those previously in Pace's position seemed equally excited after procuring complete bums.
There's just no need to rationalize a receiver as obviously talented as White. No head-scratching is involved with this pick, no long-winded justifications of why they valued him more than the established consensus, no precious hipster statements. Just the best player.
Unfortunately, the flexibility afforded Pace is primarily a function of the Bears being a really bad team, one that has glaring needs all over the unimpressive depth chart. It's hard to quibble when there's so much work to do on the way back to respectability.
Already there are the usual attempts to extrapolate greater meaning from a single point, which is silly, not to mention mathematically impossible by definition. No line has even been established, so this says absolutely nothing yet about Pace's larger philosophy or that of either coach John Fox or defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. When the Bears' draft is complete, we can examine it in its entirety and with context, looking at how it fits with their free-agent decisions and contract timelines.
White isn't a sign that Fox is abandoning his belief in establishing the run game, nor is he an indication that defense is suddenly less important. He's also not any kind of doubling down on the investment in Jay Cutler as the long-term answer at quarterback.
He was the best player available at No. 7 to a team that still needs as many impactful contributors as it can find, wherever they may play. This shouldn't be difficult to understand or at all mysterious or inscrutable. We get this one.
It might be strange territory for fans who are conditioned to feel like they have to figure things out, divining what the decision-makers could possibly be thinking, but now isn't the time for that. There's not much to not like about this critical first-round pick.
If Ryan Pace is wrong, a lot of us are. That's not such a bad place to be.
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